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Irish bishop: Papal visit a chance to recognize sin, work to repair the Church

Limerick, Ireland, Aug 16, 2018 / 01:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Pope’s visit to Ireland is a time for the Church to reflect on her past failings and consider how to repair the Church for future generations, an Irish bishop has said.

Pope Francis will visit Ireland Aug. 25-26 as part of the World Meeting of Families, an international gathering of Catholic families that takes place about every three years. The last World Meeting of Families was held in Philadelphia in 2015.

In his homily for the feast of the Assumption, Bishop Brendan Leahy of Limerick said that the Pope’s visit is a chance for the Church to acknowledge “the dark aspects of our Church’s history that have come to light especially in recent decades.”

He then named several of the Church’s past failings and sins, including “a clericalism that ended up confusing power and ministry, the sexual abuse of minors by clergy and religious that did untold life-long damage to victims, the violent and repressive treatment by church representatives of young people sent to the State’s reformatory institutions, the dark experience of vulnerable women in places meant to be residences of refuge,” according to the Irish Times.

“Sadly, as has been highlighted, cover-up, willful or otherwise, and mismanagement compounded the damage, adding to our shame,” he noted Aug. 15.

The bishop celebrated the feast day Mass at Mass Rock in Kileedy, a symbolic gesture, he said, because the Catholic Church must be brought out into the open. Mass rocks are stones, sometimes pieces of old churches, in isolated outdoor locations throughout Ireland where Catholics would secretly celebrate Mass during the 17th century, a time of Catholic persecution.

There are many good things and good people to acknowledge and be grateful for in the Church, Leahy noted, but gratitude for the good “can never eclipse recognition of sin, criminality and evil. In some way, everyone in the church bears the shame of these darks aspects of our history. Few of us can throw stones as if we ourselves were not somehow associated.”

This year, the World Meeting of Families lands just after widespread revelations of scandal and clerical sex abuse in the Church in the United States, including accusations of sexual abuse and misconduct against former-cardinal Theodore McCarrick, as well as the release of a report detailing abuse in six Pennsylvania dioceses which included more than 300 priests and 1,000 victims.

The Catholic Church in Ireland was rocked by its own sex abuse crisis, beginning in the 1990s and culminating in the release of several in-depth reports detailing decades of abuse and cover-up released in the late 2000s.

There has since been a significant drop in weekly Mass attendance as well as active priests in Ireland.  Current projections also predict that by 2030, there will only be 111 priests in the country, a decrease of about 70 percent. One report found that between 2008 and 2014, weekly Mass attendance in Dublin dropped by 3.7 per cent per year.

Bishop Leahy noted that while the Church in Ireland has since implemented many procedures and practices to prevent and report instances of abuse, it cannot grow complacent.

“As well as needing to pray for those who have been wounded we need to keep listening and to learn from them how to clarify and repair our church,” he said.

He also encouraged young people to be open to what the Church might have to offer them, and to voice their ideas about new ways to connect young people to the Church.

“Might this visit of Pope Francis be a moment when young people might look again at what the Church really has to offer? We need you because you are part of our access to what God is saying to the Church today. We need you to help us find the ways towards the future that God has marked out for us all.”

Muslim woman who declined handshake wins labor case in Sweden

Stockholm, Sweden, Aug 16, 2018 / 12:17 pm (CNA).- A labor court in Sweden has sided with a Muslim woman whose job interview was cut short when she refused a handshake for religious reasons.

The court, in a 3-2 vote, ordered the company to pay the woman 40,000 kronor – or $4,350 – on the grounds of discrimination against her, the BBC reports.

Farah Alhajeh was applying for a job with an interpreting company in Uppsala. During the interview, she would not shake her male interviewer’s hand. Instead, she placed her hand over her heart, later saying she was trying to avoid offending the interviewer.

The 24-year-old says her Muslim faith prohibits her from physical contact with members of the opposite sex, outside of her family.

The company argued that Alhejah’s refusal to shake hands could hamper her effectiveness as an interpreter. However, the court disagreed. According to The Local, Alhajeh was applying for a job doing video and phone interpretation, where she would not have to interact in-person with clients.

Company policy and anti-discrimination laws prohibit treating people differently because of sex, the employer said. It said it could not have staff members refusing a handshake because they are women. The company does allow staff members to decline handshakes due to germophobia and autism.

The Swedish labor court said the company could rightly demand equal treatment for men and women, but not by insisting upon a handshake. Doing so, it said, is discrimination against Muslims.

The court said that the European Convention on Human Rights protects the refusal to shake hands on religious grounds.

Sweden's discrimination ombudsman's office, which represented Alhajeh in the case, applauded the ruling, saying that it had balanced “the employer's interests, the individual's right to bodily integrity, and the importance of the state to maintain protection for religious freedom.”

“I believe in God, which is very rare in Sweden... and I should be able to do that and be accepted as long as I'm not hurting anyone,” Alhajah told the BBC.

Handshakes, a traditional greeting in some parts of Europe, have been the center of other controversies in recent years as well.

In both France and Switzerland, Muslim individuals who refused to shake hands with opposite-sex officials had their citizenship processes suspended or denied.

How the Church could reach out to the children of priests

Dublin, Ireland, Aug 15, 2018 / 05:21 pm (CNA).- Discussions surrounding sexual abuse and immorality in the Church should also address the challenges and injustices facing children of priests and religious, said the founder of a support website for such children.  

Psychotherapist Vincent Doyle founded Coping International in 2014, after two years of research, as a way to offer resources and support for children of celibate priests and religious. In the Latin Catholic Church, priests are generally required to remain celibate, that is, unmarried, with limited exceptions made for faith leaders who have converted from some other Christian traditions.

“I wanted to have a Church-supported ministry on a global level for children of priests and religious, male and female,” he told CNA. “I wanted to work with the Church as opposed to working against the Church…to try to get the solution to come from the inside out.”

Doyle said that when he raises the issue, he is met with “a lot of automatic default responses.” People are often dismissive, assuming that children of priests and religious are rare or nonexistent.

“I wanted to have some qualitative and quantitative data so I could actually speak,” he said.

Doyle launched the website Children of Priests International – copinginternational.com – in December 2014. But he didn’t tell anyone about it. He wanted to see how many people were searching for it.

Two and a half years later – with no marketing, media attention, or international advertising – he said the site had received more than 400,000 hits.

As of today, he said the website has received nearly 1 million visits from around the world – more than 175 countries – but every month since the website was launched, Ireland, England, and the United States have been among the top countries driving traffic to the site.

Doyle said this suggests that children of priests and religious are far more numerous than many people realize.

But in many ways, the Church is failing to address – or even acknowledge – the unique challenges faced by these children, who often live in secrecy and shame, he said.

Doyle said he has seen the greatest success in Ireland, where the national bishops’ conference last year outlined “Principles of responsibility regarding priests who father children while in ministry.”

The document stated that while individual situations will vary, “the needs of the child should be given first consideration.” The father should recognize his responsibilities, it said, and the mother should be fully involved in decision making.

In 2015, the executive secretary of the Irish Bishops’ Conference stated in a letter that confidentiality agreements involving priests fathering children are unjust if they compromise the consent of parties involved, or if they “hinder the basic goods of mother and child.”

Doyle said the Irish bishops’ guidance is a model for other countries. Now, he would like to see greater acknowledgement for the children of priests on a global scale, and said he has reached out numerous times to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

In October 2017, Bill Kilgallon, then a member of the commission, responded to correspondence from Doyle. Kilgannon clarified that the commission does not deal with individual complaints, nor does it have the authority to give directions at any level of the Church. Rather, the commission is an advisory body that offers counsel to Pope Francis and the bishops’ conferences and religious superiors of the Church.

Kilgallon said that at the commission’s most recent meeting, it was decided that the Guidelines Working Group, which he chaired at the time, should consider developing guidelines on how the Church could address the children of priests. He told Doyle that his working group would be examining existing guidelines – such as those issued by the Irish bishops – and working with curial offices in Rome as it moved forward.

However, Kilgallon’s term on the commission concluded in 2017, and he was not reassigned. Doyle said it is unclear whether the working group’s discussion on the matter is still slated to continue, although he said he has written to Cardinal Sean O’Malley, president of the commission, about the matter.

He said the recently released Pennsylvania grand jury report confirms his speculation that there is an overlap between sexual assault of minors and children of priests.

The report, which documents more than 1,000 abuse allegations from the last 70 years, included accusations involving teenage girls who said they had become pregnant as the result of rape by a priest. Children conceived in sexual assault are also victims of abuse, Doyle stressed, and failing to recognize this is compartmentalizing abuse.

Doyle hopes the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors will recognize a connection between priests fathering children and the sexual assault of minors, and examine the questions, “How many children have resulted as a consequence of that abuse?” and “What are the traumas inherited by these children?”

In this way, he said, the Church can take a first step toward ministering to these children, and offering them the material and psychological assistance they may need, with a focus on ensuring that the natural rights and pragmatic needs of the child are not sacrificed in an attempt to keep the matter silent.

He hopes that Pope Francis will address the issue, and that every bishops’ conference will create a response, possibly using the Irish guidelines as a model.

In cases when assault and abuse are not part of the picture, but when there is a consensual relationship between a priest and an adult woman, the Church’s response should not focus on scandal, which stigmatizes the priest, but on the wellbeing of the child, he said.

“The presence of a child compounds what is already a very difficult situation,” Doyle said. “It’s about pastoral care. It’s about psychological assistance. That’s, for me, what should be the starting point – to minister to these people.”

 

Life of Spanish chemistry professor shows 'holiness is in the ordinary'

Madrid, Spain, Aug 15, 2018 / 10:33 am (ACI Prensa).- Guadalupe Ortiz de Landázuri, a Spanish member of Opus Dei who is moving toward beatification, teaches us that sanctity can be found amidst chemistry books and classrooms, said a priest leading her cause.

Spanish priest Fr. José Carlos Martinez de la Hoz, who is responsible for the canonization causes of Opus Dei members in Spain, said that Guadalupe’s life contains a simple message: “Holiness is in the ordinary.”

“She became holy giving chemistry classes, being a good professor, and this tells the rest of us that we can achieve the same in an ordinary life,” he reflected.

“Guadalupe lived dedicated to her chemistry students, dedicated to souls and especially her mother who died a half hour after her. She lived dedicated to God and others, despite her serious heart disease which at the end of her life really slowed her down.”

In June, Pope Francis authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to publish the decree approving on a miracle attributed to Guadalupe’s intercession.

The miracle involved a 76-year-old man suffering from a malignant skin tumor near his eye. After praying to Guadalupe in 2002, the tumor instantaneously and inexplicably disappeared.

In addition to this recognized miracle, Martinez de la Hoz said “there are many favors from people who start to lose hope and Guadalupe has given them back peace, thanks to the patience that she had.”

Guadalupe was born in Madrid in 1916. She studied chemical sciences and was one of five women in her graduating class.

She met St. Josemaría Escrivá, the founder of Opus Dei, in early 1944. According to Martinez de la Hoz, “one Sunday in 1944 when she was at Mass in the church of the Conception on Goya Street in Madrid, she became distracted and heard the voice of God inside telling her that although she had a boyfriend, he had something else prepared for her. She left Mass impacted by this and knew that was God's call.”

“On the tram going back home after Mass, she met Jesús Hernando de Pablos, a family friend, and she asked him if he knew of any priest she could talk with. He gave her St. Josemaría's contacts and she started to go to him for spiritual direction,” the priest told ACI Prensa, CNA's Spanish-language sister agency.

St. Josemaría Escrivá taught her that Christ can be found in professional work and ordinary life.

“I had the clear sensation that God was speaking to me through that priest,” Guadalupe would later say.

Martinez de la Hoz noted that “when Guadalupe discovered her vocation at 23, she had a boyfriend, was a chemistry teacher and lived with her mother. From that time on, she was in good spirits because of the intimate conviction of doing what God wants.”

On March 19, 1944, Guadalupe joined Opus Dei as a numerary, committing to celibacy and complete availability for the work of the prelature. Numeraries normally live in an Opus Dei center. However, she did not go to live at a center, but settled into an apartment with her mother, who needed care due to her advanced age.

During her first years as an Opus Dei member, Guadalupe worked primarily in the Christian formation of young people in Madrid and Bilbao. She was later sent to Mexico to begin the apostolic work of Opus Dei there.

In 1956, she settled in Rome, where she worked with St. Josemaría in the administration of Opus Dei. After two years, because of health reasons, she moved back to Spain, where she again took up teaching and scientific research. She then finished her doctoral thesis in chemistry.

Martinez de la Hoz said that what stood out about Guadalupe was “her smile, her good humor, her laughter...She was a woman who preferred to not dwell on the negative, and who completely trusted in God.”

The priest emphasized that what really brought Guadalupe to sanctity was her patience as a chemistry professor.

At the same time, she continued to work in Christian formation in Opus Dei. In all her actions, she reflected her strong desire to love God in her work, her friendship and with a deep joy that radiated peace and serenity, he said.

Guadalupe died of heart disease in Pamplona, Spain on the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in 1975. She was 59 years old and at the time of her death held a reputation of sanctity. Favors attributed to her intercession were quickly reported.

Her beatification cause was begun in the Archdiocese of Madrid in 2001, and was sent on to Rome in 2006.
 
 
This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa.  It has been translated and adapted by CNA.


 

Holy Snakes! A Marian feast day's strange, stunning miracle

Athens, Greece, Aug 15, 2018 / 03:03 am (CNA).- Every year, on the Orthodox feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos, a monastery on a Greek island experiences a miracle – dozens of snakes come to 'venerate' an icon of Mary.

In a phenomenon that has reportedly been happening for hundreds of years, black snakes begin appearing on the Greek island of Kefalonia between Aug. 5 and Aug. 15, the days when the Greek Orthodox Church celebrates the dormition of the Theotokos (celebrated in the Western Church as the Assumption of Mary).

According to tradition, the miracle of the snakes began in 1705, when nuns of the monastery were about to be attacked by pirates.

Legend has it that the nuns prayed fervently to the Virgin Mary, asking her that she turn them into snakes to avoid capture. Other versions say that the nuns prayed that the monastery be infested with snakes so as to scare away the pirates. Either way it happened, they were spared.

Since then, the small black snakes, known as European Cat Snakes, appear every year just before the feast, and make their way to the walls and entryways of the Church to 'venerate' the silver icon of Mary known as the Panagia Fidoussa, or the Virgin of the Snakes.

The snakes' patterning can produce a small black cross on their head, and they have a forked tongue, adding to the legend that these snakes are marked by the sign of the Cross.  

In recent years, the faithful have taken to transporting snakes to the church in jars and bags, to protect them from being run over by unwitting motorists.

The usually-aggressive snakes are reportedly docile and calm during these days, when they are welcome in the church for Mass and prayers, and disappear from the island completely after the feast until the next year.

Reportedly, the only years the snakes have not appeared on the island were during World War II, and in 1953 - the year of a massive earthquake. Locals now take the lack of the snake's appearance as a bad sign.

Every year, the island celebrates the Theotokos and the miracle with a Snake Festival.

Why these Catholics are taking the slow boat to Panama

Paris, France, Aug 14, 2018 / 09:00 pm (CNA).- To get to World Youth Day 2019 in Panama this January, most Catholics will board flights a day or two before events begin. Some will drive, and spend a few weeks along the route on pilgrimage. A few might even spend weeks walking to Panama. But a crew of almost two dozen Catholics will take more than five months to get to World Youth Day, and that’s so long as they have calm seas and fair winds.
 
A French crew of 17 men and women, four skippers, and a chaplain will sail from France to the Central American country, arriving at World Youth Day under sail, and from the sea.

Though a majority of the group has never sailed before, the crew will take three boats and gain hands-on-experience along the way. Stopping at many European pilgrim sites, the crew will spend time as pilgrims, in prayer and reflection as they travel.  The boats will carry a statue of Santa Maria La Antigua, the patron saint of Panama.  

The voyage is expected to depart from the Gulf of Brest, located in the north of France, on August 31. On behalf of all the country’s bishops, the crew will receive a blessing from Bishop Marc Aillet of Bayonne.

According the Vatican News, the team has labeled the journey a “spiritual, human, and missionary adventure.” The crewmates cited a variety of reasons for their lengthy journey. Some members are using the trip as a time to discern a vocation, better understand life’s purpose, or to focus on prayer.  

The pilgrims also expressed desires to immerse themselves in the cultures of other nations, listening to the stories of local people and learning from shared experiences.

Until September 15, the crew will sail through France, Portugal, and Spain, stopping at pilgrim sites like Santiago de Compostela and the apparition site of Our Lady of Fatima. The boats will reach Morocco by September 30 to retrace the steps of Blessed Charles de Foucault.

In October, the crew will sail to the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago, and then to Senegal. The crew will be leading a mission trip in Senegal’s capital city, Dakar.

After an estimated 20 days of travel over the Atlantic Ocean, the pilgrims will arrive at the Caribbean islands around Christmas. The crew will sail to Curacao, off the coast of Venezuela. They plan will arrive in Panama before Jan. 22.

 

Pope Francis to Italian youth: Don't live your life 'in retirement'

Rome, Italy, Aug 11, 2018 / 02:43 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Be courageous and seize the work you are called to do for the good of the world; do not live like you have already entered the period of retirement, Pope Francis told Italian young adults Saturday.

Speaking during a lengthy question and answer session Aug. 11, with both prepared and off-the-cuff remarks, the pope asked young adults, “have you ever wondered where your dreams come from?”

Do they come from television, from your friends, are they big or small, “content with as little as possible?... dreams of comfort, dreams of wellness… dreams of young people asleep?” he asked.

“I have said a few times. It is an ugly thing, young people in retirement,” he continued. “The Bible tells us that great dreams are those capable of being fruitful… of sowing peace and fraternity, sowing joy like today, behold, these are great dreams.”

“It is scary, because you could fall. But with God, do not be afraid. Go forward,” he said.

Pope Francis met with around 70,000 Italians ages 16-29 for an evening of prayer and worship in Rome’s Circus Maximus.

The teens and young adults convened in Rome Aug. 11-12 for the end of a pilgrimage organized by the Italian bishops’ conference ahead of October’s Synod of Bishops. Around 40,000 of those in attendance made a walking pilgrimage prior to arriving in Rome.

The pilgrimage was conceived as a way to ignite and strengthen the faith of Italian young people, and to pray in a particular way for the synod, which will focus on the faith and vocational discernment of young people. Youth from 195 dioceses participated.

Following the prayer vigil, churches across Rome will remain open late into the night for pilgrims to visit for prayer, adoration, confession, and other cultural and spiritual opportunities.

Sunday morning they will attend Mass in St. Peter’s Square, celebrated by Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti of Perugia-Citta della Pieve, president of the Italian bishops’ conference, followed by an encounter with Pope Francis, the Angelus, and Benediction.

To a question from a young woman who said she felt unsupported in the decision to marry young, before having a career, and who said it is difficult for young people to consider making a life-long commitment, the pope said to marry, but to do so “with discernment.”

“To choose, to be able to decide for oneself seems to be the highest expression of freedom. And in a sense, it is,” he said. But today, society has a view of freedom that is without constraints, without commitments. “Pay attention to this” he continued: it is “how freedom crumbles and no longer keeps its promises of life and happiness.”

And when this happens, people conclude that freedom is a deception and that “happiness does not exist.”

During the prayer vigil, Francis also gave a reflection on the discovery of the empty tomb in the Gospel of John, when the disciples Peter and John ran to the tomb after Mary Magdalene told them the stone had been removed.

Referencing the walking pilgrimage many of those present had made to arrive in Rome, he said, “you have set off and have come to this meeting. And now my joy is to feel that your hearts beat with love for Jesus, like those of Mary Magdalene, of Peter, of John.”

“And because you are young, I, like Peter, am happy to see you run faster, like John, driven by the impulse of your heart,” he continued, “sensitive to the voice of the Spirit that animates your dreams.”

He encouraged the youth not to be content with standing “at the end of the line,” but to have the courage to “leap forward,” to help bring about the Kingdom of God. “The Church needs your momentum, your intuitions, your faith,” he said.

Archbishop makes plea to remember Ukraine’s ‘silent and forgotten war’

Baltimore, Md., Aug 9, 2018 / 05:00 pm (CNA).- Four years of fighting in eastern Ukraine have led to “the biggest humanitarian crisis on the European continent since the end of the Second World War,” according to the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.

Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv called on the international community and the Catholic Church not to neglect the crisis in Ukraine. He made the plea during his keynote address at the Knights of Columbus convention in Baltimore on August 7.

Since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, the Ukrainian conflict has taken the lives of more than 10,000 people and has left 1.6 million people displaced, according to the United Nations.

“Besides all these casualties and human tragedies, there is still another hidden danger of the war in eastern Ukraine: This region is at risk of suffering a dire, long-lasting ecological catastrophe due to flooded mines and contaminated drinking water, which is comparable in scale to the Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster of 1986,” warned the archbishop.

“As many as 4 million people might be left without safe drinking water in the region,” he continued, “all of this is happening right now, in Ukraine, the largest country in Europe.”

The fighting has also damaged basic infrastructure. The World Health Organization documented  multiple attacks on Ukraine’s hospitals between 2014 and 2016.

“This is a silent and forgotten war. Because it is a ‘frozen conflict,’ no one speaks loudly about the war in Ukraine anymore,” said the archbishop.

Although a standing cease-fire exists in Ukraine, it was violated over 1,200 times in one week in July, reported the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Special Monitoring mission in Ukraine.

“Many specialists nowadays call this war in Ukraine a ‘hybrid war,’ that is, a war where not only traditional weapons are used on battlefields, but where all means of destruction, including economic and information warfare, are employed,” explained the archbishop, “Thanks to information technologies, modern wars are not limited to specific territories.”

“Everyone in the Western world today experiences the consequences of this information war, which targets truth by disseminating ‘fake news’ and molding public opinion according to dishonest goals. Unfortunately, not even your country or other developed countries in Western Europe have been spared from these attacks. Please remember: it is not only our war — it is the war for humanity!” said Shevchuk.

The Catholic Response

“How does the Catholic Church in Ukraine, and in particular our Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, respond to the needs of the millions of people suffering from the consequences of war?” Shevchuk asked the Knights of Columbus.

The archbishop’s response was “diakonia,” the Greek New Testament term for charitable service. In the case of Ukraine, “diakonia” entails “serving to one’s neighbor, taking care of those afflicted by the war, by providing them with spiritual guidance and often with social service as well,” he said.

“Charity is an antidote to egoism and indifference. I would say that charity is also a key to understanding the success of the Knights of Columbus in Ukraine,” he continued.

The Knights of Columbus are a relatively new presence in Ukraine. The country’s first Knights of Columbus council was established five years ago -- just before Russia’s invasion of Crimea.

Today the Knights in Ukraine have dedicated much of their charitable efforts to aiding local civilians affected by the violence in the Donbas region of Eastern Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Knights of Columbus organize summer rehabilitation camps for wounded soldiers, war veterans, and their families. They regularly visit the wounded in hospitals, fundraise for first aid equipment, and provide the disabled with free wheelchairs. One Knights of Columbus council in southeastern Ukraine runs a Christian youth summer camp for children living in immediate proximity to the combat zone.

“Our society probably does not yet realize the full scale of trauma caused by the war and that is why we, as a Church and as Knights of Columbus, need to invest so much of our energy and resources into the field of rehabilitation, in order to be able to heal the wounds of our people,” said Shevchuk.

Catholics are a minority in Ukraine, most of the local population are Orthodox Christians. The archbishop said that he was encouraged to see how both Roman and Greek Catholics work together in the Knights of Columbus. He said it shows “a wonderful example of the unity of the Catholic Church in Ukraine, so much needed in Ukrainian society today.”

On August 7, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko over the phone, reassuring him of U.S. support for Ukraine’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity,” according to State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert.

A few weeks earlier, the State Department released the Crimea Declaration calling on Russia to to end its occupation of Crimea, saying, “The United States rejects Russia’s attempted annexation of Crimea and pledges to maintain this policy until Ukraine’s territorial integrity is restored.”

In the meantime, the Knights of Columbus in Ukraine will continue to aid the those suffering from the violence.

New pope emojis will mark Francis’ visit to Ireland

Dublin, Ireland, Aug 9, 2018 / 02:00 pm (CNA).- Twitter users will have access to special emojis commemorating Pope Francis’ visit to the Ireland later this month, the Irish Daily Mail reported Thursday.

The emoji, which can be accessed by use of the hashtags #popeinireland, #pápainÉirinn, #WMOF2018 and #festivaloffamilies on Twitter, will feature an image of Pope Francis in front of the Irish flag. Another will feature the pope in front of Ireland’s Knock Shrine.

The emojis were created to mark the pope’s visit to the island on August 25-26, when he will attend the World Meeting of Families.

To mark the visit of @Pontifex to Ireland, we’re launching a special emoji!

You can activate it by using #PopeInIreland, #WMOF2018 or #FestivalOfFamilies in your Tweets.

Nó más mian leat, is féidir #PápaInÉirinn a úsáid! pic.twitter.com/BvLeLi8AKZ

— Twitter Dublin (@TwitterDublin) August 14, 2018 Similar emojis were created during Pope Francis’ visit to the United States in 2015. Twitter has also launched customs images for events such as the World Cup, the Eurovision Song Contest, and the Olympics.

Twitter will also curate a list of recommended accounts to follow during the World Meeting of Families and the papal visit.

Officials from the World Meeting of Families told the Irish Daily Mail they were “very happy” about Twitter creating the emoji, and that it was “exciting.”

“Social media didn’t exist when Pope John Paul visited, so this is a new era in technology for such trips.”

Benedict XVI was the first pope to have his own presence on Twitter. He joined the social media platform in December 2012, about three months before he stepped down from the papacy. His handle, @pontifex, was passed on to Pope Francis after he was elected.

Pope Francis has since been an active Twitter user, using the social network to weigh in on world events, and offering prayers and guidance to the Church. The pope now maintains a Twitter account in nine languages - Latin, English, Spanish, Italian, German, Portuguese, Arabic, French, and Polish.

Pope Francis will be in Ireland for about a day and a half, and will celebrate Mass at Dublin’s Phoenix Park on August 26. This is the first papal visit to the country since Pope St. John Paul II visited Ireland in 1979. Twitter and Facebook would not exist until several decades after that visit.

The Feast of Saint John Vianney – a model for priests

Ars, France, Aug 3, 2018 / 05:04 pm (CNA).- The patron saint of priests, St. John Vianney, died Aug. 4, 1859. A century later, Pope John XXIII reflected on the life of the saint, and what it means to be a holy priest.

In contemplating the life of St. John Vianney, one immediately thinks of a priest who lived out great penance, and whose “only motives were the love of God and the desire for the salvation of the souls of his neighbors,” John XXIII said.

The saintly pope reflected on the life of Vianney in an encyclical titled Sacerdotii nostri primordia. The encyclical was written in 1959 for the 100th anniversary of Vianney’s death.

After struggling with his studies, St Vianney was ordained a priest in 1815. Shortly afterward, he was assigned to Ars, France, near his hometown of Dardilly.

There, he spent a majority of his priesthood. He was noted for his dedication to the poor, his counseling to those in need, and for founding La Providence, an orphanage for girls.

The saint was well-known for his dedication to the Sacrament of Penance. He would make himself available for confession for up to 16 hours daily.

In his encyclical, Pope John XXIII called St. Vianney a model of priestly holiness.

“[The priest] is no longer supposed to live for himself…He must be aflame with charity toward everyone. Not even his thoughts, his will, his feelings belong to him, for they are rather those of Jesus Christ who is his life,” he wrote, quoting a sermon from Pope Pius XII.

“St. John Mary Vianney is a person who attracts and practically pushes all of us to these heights of the priestly life,” John XXIII further added.

The pope highlighted the three evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience, which he said Vianney exemplified.

“His example in the various works of priestly asceticism still points out the safest path to follow, and in the midst of this example, his poverty, chastity and obedience stand forth in a brilliant light,” the pope said of Vianney.

“What great benefits are conferred on human society by men like this who are free of the cares of the world and totally dedicated to the divine ministry so that they can employ their lives, thoughts, powers in the interest of their brethren!”

Pope John XXIII said St. Vianney, who was a member of the Third Order of St. Francis, clearly lived a life of poverty. He noted the saint’s heavy mortifications – restraining himself from food, sleep, and other personal belongings. 

“This detachment from external goods enabled him to offer the most devoted and touching care to the poor,” said the pope.

“He passed a life that was almost completely detached from the changeable, perishable goods of this world, and his spirit was free and unencumbered by impediments of this kind, so that it could always lie open to those who suffered from any kind of misery.”

Similarly, Pope John XXIII wrote, the preservation of chastity breaks the restraints of self-interest and grants a person greater dedication to those in need.

“St. John Mary Vianney has this pertinent comment to make in this regard: ‘A soul adorned with the virtue of chastity cannot help loving others; for it has discovered the source and font of love –God.’”

The pope also pointed to Vianney’s dedication to the virtue of obedience. The saint, he said, had desired a contemplative life rather than the heavy burden of pastoral duties, but he still remained obedient to the bishops.

“All his life he longed to lead a quiet and retired life in the background, and he regarded pastoral duties as a very heavy burden laid on his shoulders and more than once he tried to free himself of it,” the pope said.

While God never allowed him to achieve this goal, it was certainly God’s way of forming the saint in the virtue of obedience, he said.

He also highlighted Vianney’s prayer life and devotion to the Eucharist, as well as his commitment to the Sacrament of Confession.

Pope John XXIII said Vianney “habitually restrained his own will” to further dedicate himself to the Church. He expressed hope that this fire for the Church which consumed Vianney may also consume all priests.  

“It is said that St. John M. Vianney lived in the Church in such a way that he worked for it alone, and burned himself up like a piece of straw being consumed on fiery coals. May that flame which comes from the Holy Spirit reach those of Us who have been raised to the priesthood of Jesus Christ and consume us too.”